In 1974 the Five Hills Garden Club published a booklet, "Common Sense Gardening in Fairfax County," to help gardeners and newcomers in Northern Virginia with their gardening efforts. A revised and expanded edition of the booklet, prepared by Jean M. Bollinger, landscape design critic and plant consultant, was published recently. It is full of good advice and can be purchased from Jean Bollinger, 9628 Prelude Court, Vienna, Va. 22180 for $2 plus 50 cents postage. Profits from the book will be used to support the club's community projects.
The booklet starts with a section of guidelines for each month. (Bollinger points out that in a booklet of this size, subjects can be discussed only briefly and additional sources of information are listed.) Here are samples from what to do in January:
Order catalogues. Then select trees, shrubs and perennials and seeds of annuals and vegetables to suit your garden needs.
Resolve to start a garden notebook to record the many lessons learned each growing season.
Increase humidity around house plants by grouping them together on trays of gravel and water with the water level below the top pieces of gravel.
Foliage plants that have become dusty may be wiped with a sponge or soft, moist cloth to renew their attractive appearance and prevent a buildup of insects.
Brush snow from evergreens as soon as possible after a storm. Use care in trying to remove ice from brittle branches. It may be safer to prop the branches until some of the ice melts.
Avoid covering ornamental plants with snow when shoveling. Snow placed around plants will protect them from sun and wind.
Place branches cut from the Christmas tree over newly planted perennials to prevent alternate freezing and thawing of the soil which may heave plants out of the ground.
Protect newly planted broadleaved evergreens from high winds and bright winter sun with burlap or lath screens placed around them.
Avoid heavy traffic on the lawn. During periods of very cold weather, the frozen grass blades are brittle and may break.
Watch for areas in the garden where water collects and make a note to correct this problem in the spring.
Provide food and water regularly for the wild birds. In addition to seed, birds like suet, fruit, nuts and crumbs from bread, cake, donuts and cookies. Encourage the birds to visit your yard. They will be a good source of insect control during the summer months.